MACAU -- Former Los Angeles Laker wingman Lance Stephenson combined with Salah Mejri to power the Liaoning Flying Leopards past TNT KaTropa 96-91 in the main game of the East Asia Super League Terrific 12 Tuesday night at the Tap Seac Stadium.
Stephenson led the Flying Leopards with 31 points, six rebounds, and eight assists, including a tomahawk dunk late in the game that turned boos into cheers from a predominantly Filipino crowd.
Mejri, fresh from playing for Tunisia in the FIBA World Cup, contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Troy Rosario, Ryan Reyes and Anthony Semerad sat out, forcing the KaTropa to rely on high-scoring imports McKenzie Moore and KJ McDaniels. Moore led TNT with 41 points, while McDaniels added 32 and nine boards.
"We got really good competition today and that was good. A lot of positives for us as we try to build on this game," TNT consultant Mark Dickel said. "Any opportunity for us to get tested is great for us."
Midway in the third quarter, Stephenson and TNT's David Semerad exchanged words after a hard foul. Both received technicals for the incident, which Stephenson brushed aside after the game.
"That's part of the game. We played hard. They were trying to stop me and they will do whatever it takes so I try to be smarter," Stephenson said. "I thought he would try to hurt me, but that's part of basketball. I wasn't mad. Just having fun out there and win the game, just having fun and I'm just happy we won the game."
Blackwater Elite vs. Seoul SK Knights
The Seoul SK Knights unleashed two crippling runs in the third period to hammer the undermanned Blackwater Elite 93-77 in the opening game of the East Asia Super League Terrific 12 on Tuesday at the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion.
Seoul's American reinforcements Jameel Warney and Aaron Haynes joined hands in scoring inside, taking advantage of Blackwater's shallow frontcourt, while Kim Min-Soo supplied the outside shooting to get the Knights off to a winning start.
The Elite missed the services of top rookie Bobby Ray Parks, who sat out with an Achilles heel injury, and Mike DiGregorio, who is down with flu according to team owner Dioceldo Sy. Veteran big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini also sat the game out.
"I thought we started the game really flat, but we can't let that happen as we play again tomorrow," said Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan. "Maybe that's the reason why we lost the game because there were some instances we were getting some stops consecutively, but we never took care of ball. We turned the ball over couple of times and it hurt us also."
The Elite have little time to adjust as they return to action against 2017 Super 8 Basketball champion Chiba Jets on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Blackwater, though, managed a massive comeback, after being down by 17 points, and tied the score at 46-all. But Warney sparked an 11-1 run for the SK Knights, midway in the third canto, to reestablish their lead at 57-47.
Paul Desiderio then scored five straight points for the Elite, before the Knights responded with a lethal 12-2 blitz late in the third period as they went on to dictate the tempo the rest of the way.
Warney led the SK Knights with 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in a near triple-double effort.
Min-soo added 18, lacing his hot-shooting effort with four triples, while Haynes added 18 and eight boards.
Alex Stepheson led the Elite with 22 points and 22 boards. Marqus Blakely added 14 and five boards, but was limited to just 22 minutes of play after picking up three quick fouls in the opening period.
Desiderio chipped in 12 and was the only Blackwater local player to score in double figures.